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First Church centers its fundamental belief on the concept that God is love. This foundational belief stems from recognizing God's love for the world through Jesus Christ, leading us to value each other as reflections of God's loving image. Every action and expression within our congregation is rooted in this core belief and value. As a proud member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), we wholeheartedly embrace inclusivity, reflecting our commitment to being a genuinely welcoming congregation.

Being Presbyterian refers to a theological heritage started by Martin Luther and refined by John Calvin and John Knox.

The origins of the Presbyterian Church trace back to the Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther. In 1517, Luther posted 95 "theses" or discussion questions on the church door (the town bulletin board) in Wittenberg, Germany. Thanks to the newly invented printing press, Luther's challenges to the established church doctrines spread throughout Europe within a mere two weeks. This marked the commencement of the Protestant Reformation.

The emerging reforms in the church quickly caught the attention of a promising young student in France named John Calvin. A trained lawyer, Calvin penned a brilliant exposition of this "reformed" faith at the age of 29, known as The Institutes of the Christian Religion or simply Calvin's Institutes. His work garnered significant acclaim for its profound insights and clarity. Calvin later established himself in the town of Geneva, Switzerland, becoming a key figure in the ongoing reformation of the church. The theological foundations of the Presbyterian Church today can be traced back to the writings of John Calvin.

Following John Calvin, a pivotal figure in Presbyterian history is John Knox, who resided in Scotland during the mid-1500s. Knox spearheaded the Reformation in Scotland, championing Calvinist principles and protesting against the Catholic rule of Mary, Queen of Scots, along with Catholic practices. His ideas not only established the moral character of the Church of Scotland but also influenced its democratic system of governance. In addition to numerous written works, Knox played a crucial role in crafting the Scots Confession, the initial Book of Order, and the Book of Confession.

Presbyterianism in America

From the colonial era onward, Scottish Presbyterianism has wielded a significant influence in the United States of America. Reformed churches took root in the early 1600s, and Presbyterians played a crucial role in shaping both the religious and political landscape of the newly formed nation. Notably, Reverend John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister, stands as the sole Christian clergy member to have signed the Declaration of Independence.

In numerous aspects, the United States is rooted in a Presbyterian perspective, highlighting values such as diligence, discipline, and the pursuit of a improved society. Presbyterians played a pivotal role in advocating for women's rights, the abolition of slavery, and temperance. Just before the Civil War, the church experienced a split into two distinct denominations, only to reunite in 1983. Our denomination is officially known as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), representing the "mainline" Presbyterian tradition with a membership of 1.4 million believers across over 9,000 congregations.

What Presbyterians Believe

Presbyterians Are:

  • Protestant. We come from the protestant Reformation that began in the 1500’s with the theological thought of Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox.

  • Reformed and always reforming. We try to always reform our life and practice, both individually and corporately, according to the teachings of scriptures.

  • Elected by God’s grace. We believe we have been chosen by God’s grace. However, this election is not primarily for privilege, but rather for service. It leads us to gratitude and assurance in our faith, and is best recognized in retrospect.

  • Saved to share the good news with the world around us. Missions have always been a strong emphasis of our denomination.

  • Confessional. Our life of faith flows from Holy Scripture and is inspired and illuminated by a historic confessional tradition.

  • Yielded to God for God’s work in the world. This means being good stewards of God’s creation. It means working for peace and justice. We seek to change unjust social structures where they exist.

  • Thinkers of our faith. We believe that God has given us minds to use for God's service. We believe that the life of the mind is a service to God. Therefore, we study our faith in order to love God with our mind, as well as our heart and soul.

  • Encouraged by what we believe God can do. Presbyterians tend to balance an undue pessimism about the world with a sense that, with God, all things are possible. We pray for and work for the kingdom of God in the world, knowing that all good things ultimately come from God.

  • Relying on God’s grace by faith for our salvation. It is not our works, nor our righteousness that saves us. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. No matter how much good we do, we are always sinners saved by grace.

  • Inspired to worship God in all we do. Worship is our #1 priority. Our primary reason for existence is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”. We make personal prayer a priority and regularly gather to worship with God’s people.

  • Attached to one another by bonds of love. Every person matters to God. Every person’s gift is needed in the church. Everyone is of value and worth in God’s sight. We believe that the church is built up by the exercise of God’s peoples’ spiritual gifts therefore we encourage everyone to find a place to serve.

Explore our Faith Tradition

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